Your Place Or Mine? Big Words For A Little Girl

Last night Mr. Pigtail Pals and I took the kids to our county fair. One of their favorite spots is the corn pit (think sandbox but with corn kernels) so we chatted while sitting on a nearby hay bale while the kids swam and rolled around in eight inches of corn. He brought up a group of girls he had seen earlier in the night, and was disturbed by the clothes they were wearing. He said they were approximately 12 or 13 years old. He described their outfits: micro shorts and revealing t-shirts and tank tops. He said he noticed them when Amelia read one of the shirt logos out loud while they were standing by group, the shirt said “Your place or mine?”

“Those are big words for a little girl. Hope she understands the message that saying conveys.” -I said of the girl wearing the shirt.

“She didn’t even look old enough to babysit the kids, but was wearing that shirt. Her friend had on another one with an equally sexual message. It made me feel really sad for her. The thing that t-shirt said most loudly to me was that on first impression wearing something like that at that age, she didn’t have a lot of respect for herself. Why would you present yourself that way at a public event? If she were grown it would be a little different, but she looked like a child trying to be a woman. It was really disturbing, really out of place.What kind of guy is going to approach a twelve year old and hit on her so that she can ask ‘Your place or mine?’ Either one who is a predator or one who won’t respect her. Shouldn’t she be running around having fun with her friends and giggling about a cute boy or first kiss or something? Instead of offering one night stands with a t-shirt? It made me think of Amelia, five or six years from now, hanging out with her friends at the fair. That is just a few years away, but this group of girls made it feel like another world away,you know? It was shocking to see such young girls dressed like that. I think most of all, I just wanted to hug her and tell her she was worth more….I hope all this time you spend on the business, your book, I really hope parents wake up and take better care of their girls. That shirt seemed dangerous in a way…” -Mr. PP trailed off, and watched his little girl wearing a “Full of Awesome” tee dumping buckets of corn kernels on her little brother.

7yo Amelia playing in the corn pit, just five years younger than the girl wearing the "Your place or mine" t-shirt.

Are girls ready to leverage a “Your place or mine” comment at someone when they are in junior high? Do they have the social skills needed to navigate the world of sexual come ons and sexual experiences? Or are they biting off more than they can chew? At that age, isn’t “my place” their parent’s house? Would they have the means to obtain birth control, or even the knowledge to require their partner to use it? Are they wearing that kind of tee to be rebellious and a bad ass, or because they are desperate for external validation? Both? Is it an expression of sexual empowerment or self objectification? Is that shirt an expression of authentic, youthful sexuality or corporate sexualization?

When I was her age, I was hoping a boy would kiss my cheek at the top of the Ferris wheel and hold my hand. But that was during a time when young girls were allowed to stay young girls and not rushed into a faux version of adulthood in order to pad some corporation’s bottom line.

Comments

  1. Danielle says:

    I have young sons and I am equally worried for them. My sons will be the ones getting beaten up by fathers or older brothers if they cave in to peer pressure and go back to “her place” age 12. What will happen to them if they get a girl pregnant because they’re both too young and foolish to be responsible? Do I have to talk to my 10 year old son about contraception and sexual responsibilities now? Before he even hits puberty? The slogan t-shirt companies in the world are suggesting I should.

    • Danielle – I too worry about my son, who will go to school with and try to have friendships with these girls who have been sexualized since birth. I hear from many parents of boys that the girls become sexually aggressive around 4th-6th grade and are hungry for an external validation of sexual worth their male peers are not always interested in giving them. It robs our sons the opportunity to form important, platonic friendships with girls and at the same time, grow in an environment where their female peers present themselves as more than just sex objects.

  2. For several years I worked as a substitute teacher, and became well known for being a great teacher for two types of groups – Pre-k, kindergarten and then the highschool kids from low income or nontraditional family situations. Those were my bread and butter as I worked classrooms like that daily.

    Sometimes I’d get called to work elsewhere because a teacher would be gone for a week or longer. One such time I found myself in a 7th grade classroom were my maximum class size was no more than 7 so I could work one on one with these students.

    One girl, portrayed a very street-smart/tough attitude, and her fore arms had sleeves of these small colorful bracelets (not the kind that make shapes). I remembered when I was in school those bracelets used to stand for sexual acts the person was willing to do or had done. I overhear every conversation going on, a perk of having ADHD, and quelch them if they stray too off topic, but as they are packing up to go to another class I usually don’t mind.

    On the second day, she was proudly describing to a classmate that the bracelets all stood for something and she’d bring a list. The girl was true to her word, as I took one up the next day as she attempted to pass it along. I was shocked since while the color code changed, those little bands signified she was both experienced sexually and willing to experience more.

    Me taking up her note embarrassed her fully. I took the note back to my desk, took a picture with my smartphone as evidence without her knowing. At the end of class, she asked about her note, and I said I’d tear it up and throw it away and she shouldn’t be passing that on, a reputation can stay around for a long while, and if she got any respect from those, it wouldn’t last once people really understood what that meant.

    She didn’t wear the bracelets for the next 2 days I taught, but I can’t say that stuck. I did pass the picture I took along hoping the dress code might be changed or at least the faculty would know.

    • Jay – I really like your story for two reasons. One, the message you sent to the girl was that her actions do not define her worth and that she should be mindful of the reputation (I call it personal brand) she is building for herself. You let her know that she is more than a walking sex toy, which is how she was presenting herself. And two, you didn’t use the note to shame her and make the problem about a single girl, but recognized it was a school-wide issue and that the dress code should be addressed.

  3. A long while ago, a bunch of friends & I came up with a rather offensive, yet accurate term for tween girls dressed as you describe in the early parts of this post: “Prostitots”

    Or at least I thought we came up with it. Just googled the term and it’s got a ton of hits: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=prostitots

    It’s really, truly sad to me that this exists. If ever there were a reason to explain why messages like yours are necessary, Melissa, just drive past a movie theater on Friday night, or go near Hot Topic in the local mall. You’ll see the prostitots hanging out (literally and figuratively) in droves.

    Why must everything be so sexualized?

    • Exactly, Josh. And all of it gives these girls and boys such a warped sense of sexuality. For these girls, it becomes a performance instead of a feeling. Our culture throws these girls into the deep end without bothering to teach them how to swim.

  4. Kimberly says:

    When I taught 5th grade I had a young girl 10 – 11yo, who looked like a fully grown woman. I’ll call her Kelly. Kelly’s mother had passed away. Her Dad was a terrific parent, but struggled finding a style that was age appropriate for a 10 yo, and fit. He stuck with classic cuts, but they tended to draw attention to her development.

    He came to me after Kelly and some other girls had a scary encounter at the mall. They had been to an afternoon movie and were going to get something at the snack bar and wait for their ride home. A couple of over 18 yo males approached and made inappropriate sexual remarks to Kelly. Jenny, one of the other girls, is an animal activist – and even at 10yo could speak her mind. She jumped between the males and Kelly and said loudly something Like – “What type of perverts says something like that to a 10 yo girl? Get away from us you perverts – we are in 5th grade. We don’t want to hear disgusting talk like that.”

    Men and women around saw this group of girls, heard Jenny, and could see Kelly was in tears and they did what decent people do 1) they yelled for security 2) scared the males away 3) comforted the girls all of whom were scared 4) praised Jenny for her quick thinking. Several of them stayed until the parent got there to pick them up – and told Jenny’s mom who was driving what happened.

    I was a 2nd year teacher – and really didn’t know how to help. I went to some more experienced teachers. One had taught Kelly’s Mom and Dad, and went to the same church as the family. She arranged for a couple of women to go shopping with Kelly and her Dad. They showed them how to pick clothes that fit better. For a couple of years she had to dress “older” than her age because of her height and development – but the clothing was modest and in good taste.

    • Kimberly –
      What a fantastic story of a community coming together to help raise its girls. I love it! I developed early and have a large chest, so for me the sexual come ons from guys my age and much older men started when I was about thirteen. Even if I was dressed age appropriately, the sexual comments were there. I learned how to handle myself and how to respond (or not) to the boys and men, but once it started it never stopped. Once it started, I realized there was a certain social currency my body gave me and at the same time I just wanted to be able to walk down the street or hallway and not be noticed.
      I think what that girl’s father did for her was remarkable – and I’m sure the clothes and advice helped both of them – but he sought out women to help him teach his daughter that she has worth as a whole person.

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